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02 January 2013

Vocabulary: The Correct Use of "Actually"


Actually can mean in fact, really, in reality or truly. But be careful using “actually” in writing.  In spoken English, “actually” is used in many ways.  Using so many “actually” will make your essay very informal. 

In your essay, use “actually” for the following reasons only:

To indicate that something really happened
* I cannot believe that she actually came to the party even though she was not invited.
* To test his medicine, the scientist actually took some pills to see if they would work.

To correct a wrong piece of information
* People think I am Korean but I am actually a Filipino.  I just look like a Korean


ACTUALLY AS “DISCOURSE PARTICLE”
Actually, especially in Philippine English, is sometimes used as a “discourse particle” or something similar to interjections or sentence fillers. Similar to saying “well, oh,  like, y'know,  uh,  say.”

In this usage, the traditional adverbial or prepositional meanings of actually disappear. However, do not ask Grammar purist if this is correct because some of them do not accept this usage. If you noticed, this is how many Filipinos use “actually.”

Examples:
Question: How are you?
Answers (all the answers below have the same meaning)
  • Well, I’m okay.
  • Uh, I’m okay.
  • Oh, I’m okay.
  • Actually, I’m okay.
Another example:
Reporter: Krissy, how are you?
Krissy: Actually, I'm thinking of quitting showbiz.


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